Archive for Sunday, October 14, 2007

A year later, hip-hop artist’s death still unsolved

October 14, 2007


Death of hip-hop artist remains a mystery

He was a hip-hop artist who performed in a musical genre focused on money, drugs, guns and women. And one year ago, that world became a reality for Anthony Vital. Enlarge video

Anthony Vital, 28, was found dead on the morning of Oct. 15, 2006  in rural Douglas County.

Anthony Vital, 28, was found dead on the morning of Oct. 15, 2006 in rural Douglas County.

He was a hip-hop artist who performed in a musical genre that often focused on a world of money, drugs, guns and women.

A year ago, that world became all to real for Anthony "Clacc" Vital.

On the morning of Oct. 15, 2006, the body of Vital, 28, was found along the side of a private country lane west of Lawrence. He died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The case remains unsolved.

"It's still an active sheriff's department case and it hasn't been turned over to us yet," Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said recently.

Twelve months after Vital's death, sheriff's officers remain busy with their investigation, Lt. Kari Wempe said.

"Detectives are still working on new information that is coming in, and they are following leads," she said.

If investigators know why Vital was killed, they aren't saying.

But the investigation - which has included work by agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - has led to arrests and charges stemming from the Vital case.

Major C. Edwards Jr., 27, is charged with five counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of having a firearm not registered to him. He is scheduled to be tried in federal court next month.

According to court documents, Vital's wife said Edwards, also known as "Ja Ja," was with Vital the night before her husband's body was found.

Among others caught up in the Vital investigation was Carlos R. "Smurf" Green. Green, 22, was charged with being a criminal in possession of a firearm and explosives. He pleaded "no contest" to that charge, and a Douglas County judge sent him back to prison because of a parole violation for a previous conviction.

The investigation also led to Audrey Ferguson, 49. In November 2006, officers obtained a search warrant for Ferguson's Lawrence apartment. She was charged with obstruction of justice because she allegedly told her roommate not to cooperate with the officers. The charge was later dismissed.

James Neal Williams, 46, also was charged with obstruction of justice in the Vital investigation. Williams disappeared after Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin gave him a one-day furlough from jail to see a girlfriend in a hospital. In February - a month after his disappearance - Williams failed to show up in court for his sentencing. Williams was eventually found in Florida but no other details were available about his case Friday.

Vital, who was born in Lake Charles, La., moved to Lawrence in 1996. At the time of his death he was a member of a local hip-hop group calling itself Da BombSquad. He used the stage name "Clacc."

Other members of the group couldn't be reached for comment, but last year some of them told the Journal-World that they hoped to become the first big hip-hop act to come out of Kansas.

Edwards also was in the music business, according to court documents. After being identified as a "person of interest" by the sheriff's office after Vital was killed, Edwards was arrested in Mississippi on the federal gun charges. This year, after undergoing a mental examination, a federal judge ruled Edwards competent to stand trial. That trial is scheduled for Nov. 5.

But Edwards has not been able to keep his attorneys, according to court records. He has gone through three of them in less than a year.

John Duma, a Kansas City, Kan., attorney, was recently appointed to take over the case. Duma said Friday he likely will ask that the trial be continued so he can become familiar with the case.

"I haven't even met my client yet. I need to talk to him, but I can't imagine any scenario where in that I'm going to be prepared to go to trial because I'm not," Duma said.


doc1 10 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

ralphralph 10 years, 8 months ago

What? Seems like a nice bunch o' fellas.

badger 10 years, 8 months ago

I feel for his friends and family. Losing a loved one is hard, but losing a loved one and still having to deal with an ongoing investigation has to be hell. I hope that they get some form of closure soon.

badger 10 years, 8 months ago

And I'd imagine most of your 'friends' are just like you. So? If someone offs you, we should be happy to have lost another "oxygen thief" who goes around gloating over the death of a stranger?

There's nothing good about reveling in the murder of someone you never even met. If he was a good person, then he should be mourned. If he was a bad person, then the court system should have had its shot at him. Most likely, he was neither a good nor bad person, just a person. No one wins when someone is murdered.

blondebookgirl 10 years, 8 months ago

According to the J-Dub, this lifestyle became "all to real" for this murder victim.

How about a little copy-editing folks?

What is becoming all TOO real to me here is that this is yet another case of hip-hop itself being vilified instead of the actual perpetrators of this crime. And yes, IT still is a crime to kill someone who is African American, rednecks.

The racist townies on here sometimes forget that this guy obviously had a wife and other family members who loved him. How about a little empathy? They will no doubt be reading your dumb comments.

logicisking 10 years, 8 months ago

i worked with anthony at a previous job and he was the nicest & most respectful person -- he was not a thug by any means. all of you are making assumptions about him on very little facts. like anyone else, there were a few bad apples among his acquaintances -- who out there can say their friends are all perfect law-abiding citizens?

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 8 months ago

This whole "stop the snitching" movement is a disgrace.

person184 10 years, 8 months ago

15 October 2007 at 11:16 a.m.

Suggest removal

Permalink DonQuipunch (Anonymous) says:

I fully expected to be labeled a "bigot" by now. Lawrence, you're disappointing me.

Bigot. Hope this restores your faith in Lawrence.

milehighhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

TERRIBLE first line for the story.

You clearly know little about hip-hop beyond what is on MTV or the O'Reilly Factor.

Wasn't it Johnny Cash who sang "I once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die..." -- that's a little more straight-forward and abrasive than 99% of rap lyrics, but HEY...the guy's a legend, right?

local_guy 10 years, 8 months ago

that was a very close friend of mine. although he did associate with some known criminals, he was not a killer, drug dealer, or thug. people just thought that because of how he looked, until they actually talked to him. he was a very articulate and intelligent individual, and whatever the reason may be that he was killed, i dont believe it was his fault. in no way do i have any idea what exactly went on, so i cant say, but i can say that i have known him and his little brother since they came up here to lawrence, went to school with his brother (who is younger than me), and was around their family since their coming to lawrence. madmike you can shut it because you wouldn't be so happy if someone said that about one of your friends or family members. dont speak on what you dont know about is all im saying. everyone who respects the fact that one of their fellow locals was murdered, thanks and i appreciate your respect on the matter. everyone else, im not trying to be tough, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but keep it to yourself if you're gonna be a jerk about it. thanks again.

somebodynew 10 years, 8 months ago

H_C - -

I think that you are probably more correct than anyone knows. I cannot believe for all the people who "posted" how loved he was and how they all thought highly of him that obviously people have NOT talked about what they know to the one's investigating.

That is probably the main reason this is still dragging on. And unless his friends are a bunch of wimps (which I don't belive - knowing some of them) I am guessing they can't get to the people they think are responsible for any (so called) "justice".

badger 10 years, 8 months ago

marshacollins says:

"Good Lord what a load of tripe from such a hateful and nasty person. Too bad we can't combine the rope thread with this one then everyone coud (sic) go bananas. Druggies al (sic) of them the dead and his friends. Like the adage says live hard die young. I do like that the druggie thugs are kiling (sic) each other off though it saves tax dollars."

So what, I'm on your little hit list now for advocating compassion with reckless abandon? Well golly, I'll just have to curl up and die. 'Hateful and nasty'? That goes a long way towards describing someone who wishes death on a stranger because she's decided he's a 'druggie thug' and deserved to die. I'll leave you with some words from the Good Book, sister:

"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many live that deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? then be not too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Pt I, Bk I, Ch 2, P 69

misseve 10 years, 8 months ago

I didnt know Anthony but i know his family and at the end of the day it doesnt matter who he hung out with or what his profession was. Someone out there killed him and is still out there and can kill again. How disrespectful most of you are towards a man you didnt know. if this was you, your kid or a friend would you want your mother or their mother to read the racist rantings being posted? i dont think so. If you have nothing nice to say just shut up...

unclebiff 10 years, 7 months ago

over a year ago, and we still don't know expletive.

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